Skaer, M. J. , Graydon, D. J. , Cushman, J. H. .
Evaluating the Influence of Cattle Grazing on a Coastal Prairie in Central California.
Human-caused introductions of non-native species are occurring at unprecedented rates and spatial scales. These invasions have become so common and influential that they are considered one of the major drivers of global change. Grasslands throughout California are some of the most heavily invaded systems in the world, having undergone a nearly complete transformation from native flora to exotic annual grasses. Grasslands along the coast are less degraded than inland ones, but are still in need of management activities to reduce the dominance of exotics and to promote natives. Grazing by domestic livestock such as cattle may be an effective tool for mitigating these damaging invasions but results to date have been complex and often come from correlative rather than experimental studies. Here, we summarize results from a cattle exclosure experiment that evaluates the effects of grazing on the species richness and cover of both native and exotic plant groups in a coastal grassland in central California. After just one year, we have found that grazing significantly reduced aboveground plant biomass and the cover of both exotic annual grasses and forbs. In contrast, native plant species have been much slower to respond to our manipulations. Additionally, we have found that variations in aboveground plant biomass positively correlate with changes in exotic species cover. In summary, although we are in the early stages of a long-term study, our results already suggest that cattle grazing may be an effective tool for managing coastal grasslands.
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1 - Sonoma State University, Biology, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, CA, 94928, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
Time: 10:15 AM